The evening before the volunteer linemen from Nolin RECC were to go home to Kentucky, we all drove 20 minutes to Port-Salut to have dinner at a nice restaurant—a welcome break from the daily fried food at the hotel where we were staying.
Tommy Sullivan said to me, “If you get lost driving out here, just follow the three-phase line and you will find your way back to Côteaux.”
Like five groups of volunteers before them, these guys were here to help build and upgrade power lines for the newly established electric cooperative in this region.
In the three days I spent with Vince Heuser, Chad Denney and Sullivan, it was clear that they knew certain things: how to navigate the roads; who the kids are who followed them around every day; where to play pick-up soccer on the street (or beach) after work; and where to get cold beer at the end of the day.
We ate our meals together every day. After dinner, we shared stories about our day, our families (we all missed them) and, eventually, we’d talk about Haiti and why we came. And whether we’d come back. We tossed around our thoughts and agreed that the people here may not understand how life will change when reliable electricity comes to their town.
I walked with them down the street one day before dinner. It was a cool evening, and many people were sitting outside, the kids playing in the street. They all knew the linemen, and a chorus of greetings rang out.
Before long, the three guys started a soccer game with balls they brought to give away. They teased the kids, and the language of soccer took over. Easy. They don’t speak a word of Creole but in three weeks these guys made themselves at home.
And yes, we all would come back—but next time with our families.
Read the entire series of dispatches from Haiti on NRECA International and the people it serves.
This story was originally published on RE Magazine.